Practicing “will” future can fall into, dare I say it, predictable areas (“How will Manchester United do this season?”, “What will the weather be like at the weekend?”) and I find it a good opportunity to get into the discussion of real technologies and how they could change our lives as well as possible future developments, if only to keep myself awake. Depending on the group, I’ve used everything from 3D printers, jetpacks, teleportation and superconductors. I find that this theme can stimulate the brains of even the least scientifically minded student. If they find the grammar a little challenging, perhaps they would feel better about also being a little challenged by the content. Personally, I found it demoralizing to discover, after much mental strain in my attempt to understand German grammar, quite mundane facts about German Bundeslände, and that leaves turn red in the Autumn in Germany too (God they made us sing an actual SONG about it!).
Thinking up new diagrammatic representations for grammatical concepts is excellent fun. I try not to worry about super-scientific accuracy, as the goal is to give the student a visualisation of a concept, but I do like to get them consistent and meaningful. Venn diagrams, mind maps, tree structures, flowcharts and graphs, all wonderful things. I enjoy the element of thinking on my feet, as a grammar rule emerges, finding a clear and accurate representation on the fly. My students aren’t really picking up any science as such with this one, but I think of it as training for when I start slipping in equations.
Many students need to practice reading out and writing down numbers over the phone, but I find it a little boring to always ask for phone numbers, or to get them to make up numbers, so in the last minutes of a lesson I sometimes set simple maths puzzles, or we calculate Pi together, work out some statistics among the class, the percentage of students who live in Berlin, converting it into a fraction, the probability of getting the right answer to a grammar question by just guessing, anything like that. Whatever fits with the situation. I find it pretty easy to come up with simple statistical or probability questions, regardless of the theme. It gets them to practice using numbers in a real world setting, and they may even pick up a bit of nerdy number love on the way!